15 Minute Story #25: Survival

Survival 25

How did I get here? It’s kind of a funny story. It started with a simple plan to make some money. I heard about this crew that was moving a lot of dope. One of the guys, a guy named James, is a friend of mine. He told me the price they were buying their dope. I had a Connect that would get me dope for far less than that, so I made James a better offer.

This seemed like a good thing. I talked to my guy. Upped my regular order and prepared to count some money. I make the delivery a few days later. James and his people are happy with the price. I’m happy with my new source of income and all is well with the world, right? Not exactly.

I get the call from James the following week:

“Dude, you’ve got trouble.”
“What do you mean, James?”
“The guys we used to buy from, they ain’t happy.”
“I bet not. But that’s business. You and I both making money.”
“Yeah, but these guys, they’re connected….and they know who you are.”
“Are you telling me you ratted me out to them?”
“They’re dangerous guys. I didn’t want any trouble. But now they’ve put a contract out on you.”
“Thanks a load, James.  Now you’ve managed to piss off your old dealer and your new dealer. Good luck finding a new supplier, asshole.”

I hang up the phone. Sure I have some cash. But I don’t have ‘disappear from the mafia’ cash. With the contract already out, it’s clear there isn’t any way to negotiate. But my Dad always said, “Survive first. Everything else, second.”

So I go to that T-Shirt place in the mall and have a shirt made with the ISIS flag. I call the White House from my home phone and make a threaten them. Then I buy a first class airplane ticket to Washington DC. I’m stopped just past the metal detectors and detained. They put a bag over my head and now I’m here in some no name facility. It’s not the best accommodations, but the mob will have a hard time getting me here. If the people here demand I name accomplices, I think James will be at the top of my list.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #24: True Crime

True Crime 24
Most people know that cop shows get it all wrong. If you’re a cop, you’re not likely to ever fire your weapon at someone. You’re not likely to ever be shot at. In fact, you’re really not likely to have much of anything happen. We’re like a human gun. We’re there for protection, but odds are you’ll never really need us.

The truth that any cop will tell you is that being a cop is hundreds of hours of complete boredom punctuated by brief moments of absolute terror. Unfortunately we never get a warning when those moments of terror will happen.

The day had started off like any other. After checking in at the squad room and getting the latest list of stolen cars, I responded to calls for burglaries, pulled over people for traffic infractions, and responded to burglar alarms where nothing happened.

But then, just as I was about to finish up my shift, I saw it. It was an old station wagon. One of the wheels seemed to be attached incorrectly. It wobbled. Inside there were an unknown number of individuals and balloons. The car was all over the road. I hit my sirens and lights. The car kept going at a steady 25mph. I hit the loudspeaker, “PULL OVER NOW.”

The car lurched over to the side of the road and stopped. I stayed on the loudspeaker. “DRIVER. PLEASE SLOWLY STEP OUT OF THE CAR.”

What happened next occurred so quickly that I simply wasn’t ready for it. All four doors of the car opened and over a dozen people jumped out, each of them dressed as clowns. I jumped out of the car and told them to stop. It was no use. Worse, I wasn’t sure which one was the driver.

I noticed they weren’t running away. Instead, they surrounded me. And then, in unison, they each pulled out a pistol. I thought about pulling my gun, but what would be the point. I stood there and heard soft ‘bangs’ all around me as each pistol revealed a little flag that said, “BOOM”.

This was just the beginning. Ten minutes later, they had driven off and my car was covered in cream pies. Sure, the cop shows lie to you. But that’s because you’d never believe the things that really happen around here.


Words by Jack Cameron

Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #23: Confession

Confession 23

“You know that place off of South 8th? That convenience store? Some little Korean family owns it or something. The son. He’s probably 20. I went in there this one time. He rings me up. I’m getting a pack of smokes and a couple of Coors Light. The tall cans. He ring’s me up and it’s $10.87 thanks to the mark ups on their stuff. I got a ten dollar bill. And this damn kid. He’s probably seen me in there a thousand times. God knows how many thousands of dollars I spent at his parents’ store. But he won’t front me the eighty seven cents. He says he’s gotta void the sale. I end up putting back one of the beers. So now I got one tall boy which ain’t gonna even get me buzzed.

Anyway, what happened was this. About a week ago, I saw this thing on the news. Some guy’s putting on a fake beard, a ball cap, and a hoody and running around robbing convenience stores. He just runs in, points a gun at them, and grabbing the cash from the register. He’s done it like seven times and he’s still on the loose.

So I got to thinking, “Y’know, it’d be kinda great if that kid got robbed by this guy.” I got a chuckle out of the idea. I mean this place is in my neighborhood, but they ain’t too neighborly. It’d be nice if they paid for their rudeness. I mean who isn’t going to front a regular customer eighty seven damn cents?

Days go by. The guy robs another store right in the neighborhood, but the Koreans on 8th are doing just fine. And then I get this idea in my head. I could go in and rob the place dressed up like that guy the cops are looking for. I’ll just dress up as him and rob the place and they’ll think it’s the guy.

And so yes, Officer, you did catch me running out of the Korean Convenience Store with a wad of cash in one hand and a gun in the other. I get that I’m going down for that. But those others weren’t me. Honest.”

“Yeah right, pal. Tell it to the judge.”

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #22: Sequence of Events

Sequence of Events 22

She’s still upset about it. I’ve considered correcting her. I mean if you’re going to spend years being upset about something you should at least know what really happened. Then I remember that I’ve already corrected her dozens of times. But unfortunately her narrative is one that resists any encroachment from what the rest of us regard as reality.

I should explain. I have this long history of hooking up with crazy women. I don’t think all women are crazy and I’m not a sexist or anything. I’m just saying that for whatever reason I’m attracted to the cray cray.

I know it’s not good for me. I’ve got the scars and restraining orders to prove it, but for whatever reason, I don’t seem to learn my lesson. And Sheila, despite having a good job, a solid education, and a head on her shoulders that’s a lot smarter than mine, was the craziest of the lot.

About eight years ago she and I broke up. What happened according to me, according to the people who were there, and everyone else with any sense is that I caught Sheila sleeping with Dominic and so when I was at a party a week later, I made out with Sheila’s sister. This is the sequence in which the events happened. But not in Sheila’s head.

Ask her and she’ll say that I was sleeping with her sister so she dumped me and went out with Dominic, but it’s not what happened. First off, I didn’t even sleep with her and second, there was no dumping before the Dominic thing. She’s got it all mixed up.

Eventually I understood that she said this to make herself feel better about her actions. Fine. Whatever. But we travel in the same social circles. So when I see her posting something on Facebook about what did and didn’t happen, I can’t help but shake my head.

Then I started thinking about it a bit more. I realized that while I’ve certainly done some terrible things in my time, I’ve managed to always find a good reason for my questionable actions. Maybe Sheila’s not the only one who alters the narrative to make things better than they were. I decided to retrace what I remember and verify it by looking at old journal entries and emails and whatnot.

And then it hits me. She wasn’t talking about her little sister, Jen at the party. She was talking about her big sister, Hally. I didn’t even know she knew I slept with Hally. I guess I’m the asshole after all.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #21: Magic

Magic 21

When you’re a kid it’s easy to believe in things like imaginary friends and super powers and spells and witches and that sort of thing, but when you grow up, it gets drummed out of you. You find out Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real. You notice that no one else can see your imaginary friend. You realize that everything can be explained one way or another and that explanation is never ‘It’s magic.’

So when I was young and chose to become a magician, I did it still thinking magic existed. However, I learned fairly quickly that it’s all slight of hand and obfuscation. It’s making someone look here while you do something over there. Magic tricks aren’t magic. They’re just tricks.

While I got very good at performing these tricks and people loved it, the child inside me was sad that I wasn’t performing real magic.

I collected old magic books. More out of curiosity than anything else. I didn’t expect to find anything in there except maybe some material I could use for the act.

I think the book came from somewhere in Eastern Europe. It was made sometime in the 1700s. It’s all hand written. And there are no tricks. Just words. Words I’ve never heard before. I was alone at night in my apartment. I said the words.

My point is that the monsters you hear about? Those ones that were responsible for what happened in Brazil…and Cuba….and Florida? They’re my fault. But it’s not a trick. It’s magic. While I understand that the loss of life is tragic, the child in me is jumping in glee. Magic is real.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #20: Love In Flames

Love in Flames 20

“He broke your heart.”  Natalie said, “Fucker.” Kate watched Natalie down the last of her third martini in solid female solidarity. Woe to the next dumbass fratboy who tried a pick up line on this table. Kate smiled. It was her first smile three days. Kate sipped her drink and thought about how a week ago she thought she was going to marry Thomas.

Thomas Ping. Cute. Wealthy. Fun. A house here in Portland AND in Hong Kong. He felt like the first man Kate had ever dated. The others were just boys. Two years and three months seemed like a pretty sure thing. She’d played it slow though. She didn’t move in, though weeks would go by without stopping by her apartment. And when her grandmother died, Thomas was there for her. He paid for the funeral and the limos for her family. He held her and made her feel safe.

All that was gone now. He wasn’t even supposed to be in town. He was supposedly in New York closing a business deal of some sort. But he was in his giant house on a hill in Beaverton just outside of Portland getting drunk with not one but two other women. They say there was some sort of electrical problem that started the fire. Thomas and Bimbo #1  were rescued. Bimbo #2 didn’t make it. Neither did Kate’s relationship.

Kate thought about it and realized Natalie was wrong.

“He didn’t break my heart, Nat.” Natalie gave an inquiring look, “He broke my trust. He broke my plans. He broke our relationship. He broke a lot, but my heart’s just fine. It keeps beating and keeps going. Just like me. Let’s get one more round.”

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #19: Fathers and Sons

FathersAndSons

Author’s Note: Due to events yesterday I’ve chosen to write a non-fiction piece for the 15 Minute Story today. 

If you ever want to feel useless, just wait until your kid is in the hospital. You stand there looking at this person you’ve known their whole life. You think of all the things you’ve done from him. You think of every single thing you’ve said or taught him. You think of the happy moments. You think of the moments when he screams in your face or cries or yells. You think of the times you discovered new levels of frustration that only parents can find. You think of the mistakes you’ve made. Both personal mistakes and mistakes you made while trying to be a good parent. You think of all of it all at once because right now all of it has led to this moment where your child is hurt enough that he’s in the hospital and since you never bothered to become a doctor, the only thing you could do was bring him to building he was born in and hope the professionals here can fix him. If you’re a parent, you’ll find yourself in this position a few times.

Most of the time whatever is wrong is minor. You’re in and out in a few hours and it’s no big deal. Yesterday was like that. Yesterday my son was assaulted. My morning began with him calling me from a friend’s house where he’d stayed the night and telling me he needed to go to the hospital. He said he was on 45th Street so I initially drove to North 45th only to find out he was on South 45th. So I drove like a bat out of hell all across the city on Sunday morning rain slicked streets. We were home before noon after a few stitches.

A few years ago my son had a bad accident. He’d fallen off of a roof and hit his head. I watched as medical professionals swarmed around him. His face was swollen to an almost unrecognizable state as they worked to save his life. It wasn’t certain that they would. I stood there helpless thinking, “Tonight I get to watch my son die.” But he fully recovered from that incident.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine and I were talking. His oldest son is a few years younger than my own. He said, “Think back to our teenage years. Now think of all the times we almost literally died and how many times did our parents know what happened? Not many. ” I nodded. He went on, “Now think about our sons. They’ll likely get in just as much trouble as us and most of it we’ll never even hear about most of it. And the things we do hear about will scare us senseless because we have no power of them.”

He was right, but then again, if you’re any kind of parent, you’re likely to spend a fair amount of your time scared senseless anyway.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minutes Story #18: Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Apocalypse18b
They say it’s always good to be prepared. At first I took the whole pop culture zombie craze to be the latest in a series of fads that fascinate people for a while until they move on to something else. But soon I came to realize the truth. They were warnings. The Zombie Apocalypse is real. And it’s coming.

The people who know are stalking up weapons and non-perishable food along with water and gasoline. When it starts people will think it’s just another virus but once it reaches epidemic proportions and word gets out about what’s happening, we can expect a good amount of civil unrest. Survivors will likely be shooting other desperate survivors as much as zombies. After all, most people aren’t prepared and don’t know the truth. That doesn’t mean they want to die.

So it’ll be a mad scramble by the common people to find those of us who’ve prepared. If they have useful skills, they might be taken in by the survivors, but if they have a lot of kids, maybe not. You can only feed so many people after all.

I’ve spent the past few months using the Internet to get in touch with others who know the Truth. These people are the ones who are ready to kill zombies when the hordes come. Most who visit me are happy to find a kindred spirit. Too many treat them like they’re crazy, but I sit and listen calmly as they tell me about their stockpiles, their armored vehicles and their fortified compounds. Many have cut off all ties to family and friends who disagree with them. We sit and talk and drink tea.

To tell the truth, they drink the tea. I don’t. I know it’s got arsenic in it. Their deaths are fairly quiet and quick. I then take them down to the basement where I cut off their heads. Then I use the bone saw to open their skulls.

In a zombie apocalypse, you’re most likely going to be a zombie. And from a zombie’s perspective, these guys are the most dangerous people in the world. It only makes sense to get rid of them now. And in doing so, I can also stock up on the one thing I’ll need when the zombie apocalypse happens: Brains.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #17: Two Boxes

TwoBoxes 17
I have two boxes in my head. One is where I put all the shit I understand. And the other is the box I put all the shit I don’t understand. Whenever I put something in the second box, I open the box just long enough to put something in and then I seal it shut. I don’t think about the things in the second box. But every now and then it cracks open a bit.

There was the dead mirror. A friend of mine had a mirror. It was mounted in what look like the portal of ship. You looked in it and you looked like you were dead. There was no other way to describe it. It was genuinely creepy.

There was that time that I was walking through the forest with a friend and for no reason at all I started talking about a big white dog and five minutes later a big white dog appeared.

There was the man running through the train tunnel. He jogged as if it were the most natural thing in the world seemingly oblivious to the fact that there was no light in that tunnel. He didn’t even squint at the sunlight as he jogged out. That tunnel was three miles long.

There was the time that pallet landed on Joey’s foot. Me and Cody lifted it off. It had to have been over a ton. There was no way we should have been able to lift it no matter how much adrenaline was pumping through our veins.

There was that time I saw an actual ghost and just as quickly watched him disappear right in front of me.

All of these things are things I don’t think about because whenever I do, I feel like I’m going crazy. They don’t fit with the rest of the world I know. But the latest addition to the box tops them all. Don’t get me wrong. I believe it and I accept it. I’m even happy about it. But there’s no way I’ll ever understand it.

The latest addition to the box? She’s in love with me.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #16: Lunacy

Lunacy 16
“Let me tell you about the moon, buddy.” The guy talking to me showed up about a half hour ago and sat on the stool next to me despite the bar being almost entirely empty. He called me ‘buddy’ immediately. He then spent a good while telling me how hard it was to find a bar in this town without any ‘Jews or Arabs or colored folk’. I almost laughed out loud because it was hard to believe this guy was serious.

It’s been my experience that when you have a crazy drunk talking your ear off, the worst thing you can do is engage him. So I quietly drank my beer and looked straight ahead as he started telling me about the moon.

“The last time we went to the moon was 1972. And then we stopped. You know why? Civil rights. Twelve white heterosexual American males walked on that moon. The moon has only ever known the footprint of the white man. And to keep it pure, the government stopped the Apollo program before the blacks could get to the moon.”

I couldn’t help it, I actually turned to look at him to see if there was any trace of humor, but he was dead serious.

“Yup. That’s what they did alright.” He continued. “I’m building my own rocket, y’know. I’m going to the moon. I’m going up to that moon where a white man can be free.”

“Wait a minute.” I said setting my beer down. “You mean to tell me that you’re building a spaceship?”

“Yup. There’s room for three or four. If you earn your keep, you can come along.”

I had tried to ignore him but I was too curious. “So where’s this spaceship?”

“I ain’t built it yet. But I’ve got plans. Saturn V rocket technology is half a century old. I can do it. Though I do need a little funding. That’s why I’ve started me a Kickstarter campaign. With just $30,000,000, I’ll be able to go to the moon and start my own white moon colony.”

“Thirty million dollars?”

“I know it seems like a lot, but there’s like two hundred million white folk out there in America. I only need fifteen cents from each of them of course some won’t do it because they’re race traitors. So what I really need is twenty-five cents from each Believer.”

“Sir,” I said, “I am not giving you a quarter.”

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal